Inward and outward phases of healing

When we begin deep healing and awakening, the truths we’ve lived by all life begin to unravel. Elements of life begin to feel unreal as we see how they were based on illusions. Many of us tend to withdraw into “hermit mode” to process the confusion this brings. The feeling of things we have relied on falling apart is frightening, and takes tremendous energy to process. It feels like the foundation of life is cracking, ultimately pushing us to leave the debris behind and build a new one out of the chaos of raw potential.

Grasping for clarity, we read, write, contemplate, and feel the feels – for days on end and for whatever time it takes. This inward-looking phase is a necessary part of awakening. It may even return several times over years of healing. Being alone with our feelings helps us get in touch with what we feel, untainted by the perspectives of others. This is the gift of solitude.

However, none of us are ever really separate. Alongside times of introspection, we also need each other to heal. We need to express ourselves vulnerably, share our secret pains and pleasures and be unconditionally seen and loved by another as we do. Any heart-felt self-expression is tremendously healing; we feel it when we do it.

Unfortunately, what I see is that most of us don’t find it safe to express ourselves with most people around us.

Unsafe to express emotions

We humans tend to shy away from that which we haven’t dealt with in ourselves. If someone displays anger, grief, hopelessness or any other frightening emotion, people around who have not befriended their own emotions, may create a distance. We become estranged and isolated in our pain, as no one seems ready to meet it and hold it.

Often it isn’t that people don’t care… As bystanders, we are more often afraid to hurt the person in pain as we don’t know what to say. We don’t know how to hold the emotion and caretake it, as we’ve never caretaken our own. And so we withdraw, hoping they’ll find another way to deal. Maybe another person better suited than ourselves.

And for the person in pain, feeling the societal pressure to hold emotions in, we opt to keep ourselves safe from the world. For many of us, expression has proved unsafe many times before, and so we close in on ourselves. We relate expressing our pain to feeling more pain – that of losing connection.

So the separation and loneliness is mutually created. From both ends, it keeps us from real connection, from owning that we all are human, and that we all can experience every single emotion under the sun. It keeps us from seeing that we are in this together.

The separation also keeps us from the healing experience it is to express our own lived truth. Speaking our deep held truths out loud to another, with an intent of heart opening, is often the most profound act of healing we can do.

Being a safe container

Here’s something that I have realized and deeply appreciated in learning the craft of emotional work: Learning to feel safe in my own emotional world, not resisting anything, naturally extends to others. As I hold my emotions unconditionally, I also provide an unshakably safe container for others’ emotions. This creates social safety, opening doors to a new way of togetherness – with real, human intimacy.

In my work, I have the honor to hold unconditional presence for people who are struggling. Whether it’s anxiety or panic, heartbreak or grief, loneliness or despair, guilt or shame, anger or powerlessness, overwhelm or lostness…

I have found that through experiencing it all at the very depth of my own being, there is no longer an emotion that is too bad or too much. This makes it possible to be there when another breaks through their own walls. The power of my presence is enough to help another stay present with themselves, whatever is being experienced.

Ripple effect

I feel that we as a society need to create more of this safety towards ourselves and each other. This creates not just resilience, but the foundation for safe and harmonious togetherness.

None of us should have to carry our burden all alone. Together we are both stronger and wiser than the sum of our parts. We owe that unconditional presence to ourselves, and we can gift that to each other.

And as a final reminder… There is nothing within us that truly demands our hearts to close. Only our beliefs make it seem so. There is nothing within us that doesn’t deserves love.

My prayer is for us all to find the courage see this.
To honor ourselves through embracing all that we are – and extend it to each other freely.


Read more: What is self-integration? Journey into shadow and light